Thursday, 22 March 2012
Finance Bill 2012 (Certified Money Bill): Committee and Remaining Stages
Michael Noonan (Minister, Department of Finance; Limerick City, Fine Gael)
I accept the principle enunciated by the Senator that there should be an equivalence under tax law between persons who are in civil partnership and married persons. If there are any anomalies in the law, we will move to amend them on the next appropriate occasion. My difficulty with the recommendation is that I have been advised that what is proposed is already in the law and is therefore unnecessary.
The Senators are proposing in this recommendation to introduce an additional arrangement for the disposal of an asset by one civil partner to the other on the dissolution of their civil partnership, whereby such disposals could be made free of capital gains tax on foot of any legally enforceable agreement, arrangement or obligation between the former civil partners. I am, however, unclear as to what extra is being proposed by this recommendation as the provisions in the existing legislation already provide for what is now proposed, namely, that where on the dissolution of a civil partnership either civil partner disposes of an asset to the other there is no capital gains tax on the disposal. I must, therefore, oppose this amendment as proposed as it seems to replicate without improvement what is already available in the legislation provided for in the Finance (No. 3) Act 2011.
However, I wish to reiterate what I stated in the House yesterday evening. The intention is to provide the same treatment in tax law for civil partners as is available to married couples in so far as is constitutionally possible. My officials and officials in the Revenue Commissioners have consulted and canvassed broadly in this regard. My door remains open to the submission of information relating to any remaining perceived anomalies or shortfalls in the legislation relating to the taxation of civil partnerships and the Senator is welcome to provide my officials with such details for consideration in the context of the next Finance Bill.
I assure Senator Zappone that we are willing to consider the wide range of issues she has raised, but we are bound by the Constitution in addressing them. I would be more than happy for the Senator to discuss issues on which she has concerns with my officials. If it suits, she could set up an appointment with the officials after this debate. She could bring her advisers with her and we will see if we can identify issues where there is a difference of opinion. If it is shown to be necessary to legislate, we will do so.